Orange Shirt Day was created during the St. Joseph Mission Residential School Commemoration Project in Williams Lake, BC, in May 2013. As part of the project, former student, Phyllis (Jack) Webstad, told the story of her first day at Residential School when her shiny new orange shirt, bought by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year old girl, which prompted the realization that many survivors have similar stories.
As a result, Orange Shirt Day is gaining visibility as an influential movement helping to educate our students and communities on the history of Canadian Residential Schools. The Richmond School District encourages everyone to embrace and explore this topic leading up to September 30, and use the colour orange as a way of bringing attention to this issue.
Indian Residential Schools had a profound effect on the culture and language of Aboriginal people across Canada, and forever changed the lives of thousands of Aboriginal children. As the terrible legacy of these schools has become public, the Canadian government offered an apology to Aboriginal people for the forced cultural assimilation embodied in the Residential School system that existed from 1884 to 1996. The government then instituted a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to document much of the suffering on the public record, and to offer recommendations for a new relationship.
Our work in advancing reconciliation is helping to build a stronger and healthier Canada. Given that September 30th falls on a Sunday, Boyd will be commerating Orange Shirt Day on Friday, September 28th.